In the wake of the reaction to my previous post, I want to re-state and clarify what I wrote. I am well aware that the previous post was way too long and ranty, and when you blog like that it is easy to lose focus. Hopefully this will be short.
Snapesbabe reckons that my post yesterday said that “all people who are complaining about people who voted for Boris are stupid”. I don’t think that’s what I said and it certainly wasn’t my intention.
My point wasn’t to say that people complaining about Boris voters are stupid. My point, as I noted in my comment there, was to say that many of the most prominent people who complained about Boris Johnson’s voters were using arguments that were either irrelevant, invalid or could equally be levelled at Ken Livingstone’s voters.
Snapesbabe presented a post by Mitch Benn as a counterbalance to mine. I think Mitch Benn’s post demonstrates rather well what I was talking about. I know that Mitch Benn is a comedian, so you can’t expect him to play it straight. At the same time, it is very similar to just about everything I have read complaining about Boris Johnson over the past few weeks.
Here is Mitch Benn’s argument, summarised by me:
I don’t understand. How can over a million Londoners be such morons? Do they not see that Boris Johnson cannot be taken seriously? I can only conclude that they voted for him because of his appearances on Have I Got News For You. Otherwise people would see him for the Tory toff he really is.
Is there anything about Boris Johnson’s policies or record? Only this: “[Boris Johnson is] a man who has thus far struggled to demonstrate his ability to find his arse with both hands.”
This is what I’m talking about.
I will now look at the comments to another post, one which was favourable to my post yesterday. I think the comments thread demonstrates rather nicely exactly what I was saying. And these are people who have, I presume (given that they are commenting about it and all), read my post. Many of them have committed the same offences that I spent the best part of 3,000 words arguing against.
(NB. I should point out that I don’t know any of these people, so I may be misrepresenting their views. But I am assuming that they are opposed to Boris Johnson’s victory (this part is obvious from their comments) and are left-liberals who are disappointed in the current Labour government (this part I have inferred). Please accept my sincerest apologies if this is inaccurate.)
This is what they said about the Democrats…and then we “elected” Bush II. …come to think about it, it was also, “…and then we elected Nixon.” The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
“The enemy of my enemy is not my friend” was precisely what I was saying in my post yesterday. It applies equally to Ken Livingstone as it does to Boris Johnson. My point was that the campaign from the left was mainly a negative one against Boris Johnson rather than a positive one in favour of Ken Livingstone. Saying that you should vote against someone just because they are a Tory does not cut it. And if you carry on voting for Labour no matter how bad their policies become, don’t be surprised when they start adopting more terrible policies.
juggzy has the most sensible comment in the thread, although still misses the target in my view. It starts off by pointing out that Ken Livingstone has more experience. That’s a fair point, although once upon a time Ken Livingstone was just as inexperienced as Boris Johnson, so this can’t be the whole story.
Plus, as I noted in my post yesterday, if anyone stays in power too long it’s practically inviting corruption (and there were already signs of this in Ken Livingstone’s second term). So this is a tradeoff rather than a straightforward decision, and it depends on how seriously you view each potential weakness.
Labour’s record on civil liberties does not excuse Boris Johnson. Two wrongs don’t make a right…
This was pretty much the point I made yesterday in reverse. The Conservatives’ policies from the Thatcher era do not excuse Ken Livingstone or any other current Labour politicians. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
…as with Cameron, he was in the Bullingdon – that speaks volumes.
So we’re back to “booo, he’s a toff!” As purplecthulhu replied,
College clubs? It’s easy to make veiled comments about what someone did in their teens and 20s…
I think most people would be relieved that they are judged on their character and opinions as they stand today rather than whatever they did as a youngster.
There are some people who, when pressed, were and are able to articulate genuine reasons why they genuinely think Boris Johnson should not have been voted London Mayor. This is fine, and I do not have a problem with that.
But these people are outnumbered by a factor of one hundred by arguments that basically amount to, “You shouldn’t vote for Boris Johnson because he is a clown and a Tory toff, and those people who do vote for him are idiots.” I am sorry, but if you write in The Guardian or the New Statesman or your left-wing blog something as lazy as that, you are not engaging in a debate — you are engaging in groupthink.
And if you spend the whole campaign just pointing out irrelevant stuff about Boris Johnson being a Tory toff rather than actually talking about policies, don’t be surprised if he goes on to win the election. Believe it or not, there is more to politics than the colour of the rosette. Evidently enough over a million Londoners simply do not care that Boris Johnson is a Tory toff.
And when, after Boris Johnson has won the election, you raise your arms and say, “the only possible explanation is that those voters are morons,” you are just making the situation worse. Because “those voters” will start to increase in number as they get turned off the left by their childish arguments, and one day the left will wake up to find that they are just talking among themselves. Perhaps that has already happened.
You must understand that I am not making any pro-Conservative, pro-Boris Johnson or anti-Ken Livingstone points. But I beg those good liberals and people of the left — for the sake of their cause — to start debating politicians on the basis of their merits rather than their background. After all, are not left-liberals supposed to be against judging people on the basis of their background?